Security Secretary John Lee has been appointed as Hong Kong’s new chief secretary – becoming the city’s first top minister with a police background.
Police Commissioner Chris Tang will in turn take Lee’s place as the security secretary.
Even though former police officers now occupy two of the territory’s most important positions, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the appointments were made on merit, and rejected claims by pro-democracy activists that Beijing has turned the SAR into a police state.
But lawmaker Alice Mak, from the Federation of Trade Unions, said if the territory is indeed a police state, there’s nothing wrong with that.
“If it’s a police state, why not? I don’t think there’s any problem with a police state. When we say a police state, I will view the other side, that is the emphasis on security,” she said.
“In the past our society has experienced severe threats from violent factions. So I think security is an issue in our society. So if someone from the police discipline can help to govern Hong Kong, can help to maintain law and order in Hong Kong, why not?”
Mak added that it would be unfair of people to judge Lee and Tang because of their backgrounds in law enforcement.
Meanwhile, New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip said the appointments showed that Beijing attaches great importance to national security.
Ip, a former security secretary, said there have been numerous challenges to the central government over the years and that is why Beijing has promoted people with security backgrounds.
“The national security law has commenced for about a year and we are in a critical stage of enforcement. I think at this point in our development, it’s important to have senior officials who are conversant with the law enforcement aspects as well as the public education on national security. So I think they will be very competent appointees,” she said.
The DAB, meanwhile, said Hong Kong needs an administration that can “fight” in the “new era”, and it believes Lee and Tang can tackle deep-seated problems the city faces.
The two men are among Hong Kong and mainland officials hit with sanctions by the United States for their roles in implementing the SAR’s national security law.